The state trumpets every drugs seizure as a major victory over the barons. But the war against drugs is really a murky world characterised by botched operations , questionable use of informers and ego-driven squabbles between the Garda Siochana and customs officials.
Mairead Carey gets the inside story.
From ‘MAGILL’ magazine , August 2002.

When the case came to court three years later , Declan Griffin pleaded not guilty to the charges of possession with intent to supply and importing heroin and ecstasy at Dublin Airport.

He told the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that the importation of the drugs from Amsterdam had been cleared by his Garda ‘handler’ , Detective Sergeant Denis Palmer. When he was arrested and brought to Santry Garda Station , Griffin said he waited for Detective Sergeant Palmer to turn up “….and sort it all out , but when I saw the gates of Mountjoy Jail I realised Denis was not going to save me now, he’s thrown me to the wolves to try and save himself…”.

He told the court that his association with Palmer had begun in 1993 when he was arrested by gardai from Coolock station : Palmer had released him on £1000 cash bail and , Griffin claimed , the detective said that he would “look after” the charges against him . Those charges were dropped in exchange for information on petty crime. Palmer told the court that he and his colleagues believed there was insufficient evidence to warrant a prosecution, but agreed that he was wrong not to have contacted the DPP about dropping the charges…….

THE PETER BERRY PAPERS……. The Top Secret Memoirs of Ireland’s Most Powerful Civil Servant : Dirty Tricks, Election ’69/ Spying on a Unionist Politician/ Keeping the (State) Taoiseach informed/ The Garda Fallon Murder/ Advice to Jack Lynch- ‘Fire the pair of them…’/ Vivion De Valera’s advice to O’Malley/ Rumours of a Coup D’Etat/ The Internment Plot, November 1970/ Secret Meeting with William Craig.
From ‘MAGILL’ magazine , June 1980.

” I did not know then and I was not to know until the arms trial in September 1970 of the Fort Dunree episode in the last week of September 1969 in which , with the approval of the Minister for Defence , a number of men from the Six Counties were taken into the FCA for training with rifled weapons – a course which was immediately cancelled when brought to the Taoiseach’s notice.

Twenty-four hours later Mr Haughey was on the phone to me , furiously enquiring who had given the Gardai the “stupid” direction to arrest these men , and I told him that the decision came from the very top and he asked ‘do you mean the Taoiseach?’ and I said yes. I recapped what had happened and said that I had no doubt that when the defendants were before the court the indictable charges would be thrown out but that a new complication might arise if the defendants refused to recognise the court and were held to be in contempt , that for this they could be committed.

His language was not of the kind usually heard in church – he said that he would ensure that there would be no contempt. Subsequently , I consulted the Attorney General who, after consultation with the Taoiseach, instructed the local State Solicitor to appear at the District Court proceedings and the men were let go , but their weapons were held…….”


Pat Cannon (left) and Peter McElchar.

On Saturday 17th July 1976, two IRA Volunteers on active service – Patrick Cannon from Dublin and Peter McElchar from Donegal – set out in a car in which they were transporting an explosive device. They crossed the border from Donegal into Tyrone and were approaching the town of Castlederg when the device exploded prematurely. It was about 2.15pm.
Peter McElchar was killed instantly. Patrick Cannon was gravely injured and was taken to Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh. He was being transferred to hospital in Belfast when he died….

The Patrick Cannon Commemoration will be held on Saturday , 23rd July 2011 , at 1pm ; the assembly point is at the Cemetery gates. Bus number 42 from Dublin City Centre will get you there!

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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